‘Winning with a phenomenal set full of energy, surprises and showmanship, it was their greatest gig to date!’
As many of you will know by now, Chasing Deer have quickly become one of Listen to Discover’s favourite ever finds. Their background is fascinating, their tracks are incredible and their live performances deserve legendary status. So, it will come as little surprise that on Saturday 13th July, they took the winning place in the London final of Soundwaves Music Competition at the O2 Academy Islington. To say that following their set it was well deserved would be the biggest of understatements.
Setting the stage in a new way – for me at least – it was clear that this was going to be a special performance. Unlike when I saw them at The Hope and Anchor earlier in the year, this was no pub-gig. Neither was it to just be Rob, Adam and Peter. Nor was it to just be vocals, keytar, electric guitar and drums. Like before though, an incredible buzz from the fans and the band themselves filled the room. They were raring to go and we were ready for them to get started.
Called to the stage, a cheer erupted and heading straight into the lead track from their Hand’s On album, the accented beginning of ‘Another World’ saw the trio burst into life. As did their dancers! Yes, dancers! As ever, the synchronised moves from Rob and Peter were on point, but backed by three female dancers in the form of Georgia, Amiee and Anna, the whole stage burst into life just as much the music itself. While this alone was a great addition, and gave them even more stage presence – not that they needed it – there was another reason. One that went beyond that.
Presenting the whole ethos behind the track, and Chasing Deer’s ‘Hand’s On’ album, the earwormy chorus was signed in BSL. Through chatting with the band before, I knew this happened but I hadn’t seen it live. In that venue, in that context, it turned a phenomenal performance into one that was unique and truly accessible. Bringing attention to it fully, the signed a cappela version of the chorus towards the end – along with new harmonies – made a real statement of being about more than just the music.
Making an opening musical statement that was beyond question, Rob took a brief moment to thank the dancers, chat with the crowd and encourage them to get involved. He was indeed a frontman that was on top-form and the band were in full control. So much so that with him not needing his keytar for the rest of the set, it seamlessly disappeared from the stage and they headed into ‘Placebo.’ Delivering perfect contrast in every way, it was a chance for the band to prove they didn’t need the moves, or the dancers to create an impact. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was to choose which three tracks to showcase in the set, but at two tracks in, they were giving a masterclass in how to do it.
With the set reaching its final track all too quickly, it was time for the next of the surprises: the appearance of a horn section. This was new. As indeed was the track and re-welcoming the dancers to the stage, alongside Rosie on trumpet and Peter making the un-expected switch to alto sax, you knew it was going to be special. Likewise, with Rob turning to the crowd once more and stating ‘This one’s a new song, it’s called The Greatest’ you hoped it would live up to it’s title. And wow did it!
Pounding with feel-good power from the start, the sound was instantly a step up from the previous two tracks. This of course takes nothing away from those, they were simply stunning. However this one, with the band delivering it’s brain-burrowing horn lines and infectious rhythms in a way that was completely immersive, it made for an insane closing track. Truly signalling the start of a new era for Chasing Deer, it would have been impossible for the result to be any different.
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Find out more about Chasing Deer at: Behind the Music: Interview with Chasing Deer, Gig Review: Chasing Deer at The Hope and Anchor
All photos copyright of Listen to Discover. See more from the night at: Gig Photography July 2019